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To Grandmother’s House We Go…

May 8, 2008

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This is the house where my Grandma and Grandpa Hein lived in South Euclid, Ohio.

It doesn’t look like much from the outside — all grey and drab — but there couldn’t have been a better setting for some of the great memories from my childhood.

This place had it all. They owned about 3 acres of property, and on that patch of land they had a little bit of just about everything

Outside, there were large vegetable gardens. An apple orchard. Several different kinds of berry bushes growing all around the place. Cherry trees (both sweet and sour varieties). At least one or two plum trees. A huge old red barn. An old well with a working hand pump on top. A large shaded flagstone patio with two big picnic tables.

The long driveway that led from Trebisky Road back to the red barn was made of some awful kind of gravel… the kind that is very rough and sharp. Not fun for the little bare feet of grandchildren running around! But we learned to tough it out as best we could. And the sound of that gravel crunching under the weight of any car that turned in to the driveway still rings in my head to this day. In the house I would hear that sound and know that most likely some other relative of mine had just arrived for a visit at Grandma’s.

The barn was a big, wonderful, dangerous place for us kids to play in. Inside it resided one or two of Grandpa’s tractors, and other than that there was just a lot of stuff. In a narrow space next to the wooden staircase I once saw a large stack of deer legs. [Yes sir. I’m not sure I ever knew why they were there… nor did I ask.] Upstairs there were lots of odd items and I think they were mostly old Christmas decorations. Most clearly, I recall a large Santa Claus cutout laying on its side near the wall. I used to walk around in the upper level, just trying not to step anywhere that would send me through the floor onto the farm machinery parked below. Safety first!

There was also a white shed adjacent to the patio area. I think that it was a workshop of sorts for Grandpa, and it also had a carport area where one car could be kept under roof. [It was behind this shed, up against a big weeping willow tree, that I watched Grandpa methodically kill 3 or 4 baby skunks by picking them up by the tail and whacking them against the tree trunk. He had shot their mother in his apple orchard a day or two before… I stumbled upon the babies and excitedly told Grandpa of my discovery, thinking we would take care of them. Well – Grandpa certainly “took care” of them. I have the psychological scars to prove it. Just kidding.]

Inside Grandma’s house there was a big kitchen with a little nook on one end that the kitchen table was tucked into. A bathroom with one of those great big bathtubs that you just don’t see much anymore. A very narrow, creaky wood staircase that led to the upstairs rooms. A small attic space full of my Mom’s (and her sisters’ and brother’s) old books and toys and such.

Every time I walked through the dining room, the china cupboard’s glass doors rattled, and so did some of the contents inside. Grandma kept a couple things in there that I always wanted to pull out… the most popular being either of two little plastic puzzle games — you know, the kind where there is a picture, and it’s broken up into square tiles, and one of the tiles is missing, so you shuffle things around until you get the picture to look right and it’s always sooooooo hard to get that one last tile in the right slot! Both puzzles were simple black and white images, one was a picture of the Addams Family, and the other was an image of Batman’s head. I can’t remember where those things ended up, but I spent many hours working those puzzles.

Grandma had some static cling-y things sticking on her refrigerator that I was utterly fascinated with. They were all in shapes of different fruits: pear, cherries, banana, etc. I loved those things with the true love that only a little girl can have for plastic fruit clings. I played with them often, peeling them off and re-sticking them to the fridge door. I actually wish I knew what happened to them, like are they in a box somewhere, or did they get thrown away?

Upstairs at night, I’d often end up sleeping in one of two twin beds in the room at the front of the house. That room was perhaps the most “boring” room in the house, and I only really spent time there when I had to sleep. It had wallpaper that was probably very pretty but in my memory it was just a kind of drab color with little flowers in the design (I think). I do remember lying in bed and watching the lights from passing cars make their way from one wall across the ceiling and to another wall before they would disappear. About like counting sheep because there seemed to be an endless stream of traffic on Trebisky.

I could go on and on with memories of Grandma’s house. Suffice it to say, it was about as wonderful a place as a little girl could imagine, and I always looked forward to spending time there.

Sometimes I wish I could go back and see the old place, but I’m sure I would be disappointed if I saw it today. It has been about 20 years since Grandma lived there. It seems like we drove by it once years ago, and I’m fairly certain that the driveway had been paved over. I think the house has had some renovations done to it, and I am not at all sure that the barn is still standing…

But in my memory it stands. And I can hear the big willow trees whispering in the breeze, telling each other stories of a young girl 30 years ago, running in the yard and fields, enjoying every adventure that her Grandma’s house could bring.

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2 comments

  1. i’d be glad to drive by and snap some digital pictures if you send me the address.


  2. You don’t want to see Grandma’s house today; you wouldn’t recognize it, not one bit. It is no longer grey and drab; it’s the largest, most impressive house on the block. Some parts were torn down while the main section was completely reworked and incorporated into the new plan. The barn was still standing two summers ago, but not in good repair. Treasure your precious childhood memories and hang on to your old photos. By the way, I see our BMW in one of the pictures, so we all may have been visiting at the same time?



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